Influence: Influencing OHS decision-makers: using influence tactics to get what you need

23 Jun 2020

Influence: Influencing OHS decision-makers: using influence tactics to get what you need

Most decisions that impact on health and safety in the workplace are not made by Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Professionals, but by others at all levels of an organisation. Increasingly, the ability to influence OHS decision-makers has been identified as a critical capability for OHS professionals (OHSPs).

Whilst there are some theoretical explanations of what an effective OHSP should do to influence: i.e. communicate, engage and influence decision-makers and other stakeholders to mitigate risk and optimise worker health and safety; there is a scarcity of empirical-based research advising OHSPs on how to do these things.

This presentation will explore the findings of original published research that involves a new and novel intersection of intra-organisational influence theory and OHS practice. Using a mixed method approach, this research aimed to understand how OHSPs (n=385) exert influence in an upward direction within organisations by exploring the specific influence tactics used and their associated efficacy in influencing OHS decision-makers.

The key findings of this study are that certain individual factors and organisational factors impact on tactics used and influencing effectiveness. However, the choice and use of specific influence tactics explained a significant amount of variation in OHSPs’ perceived effectiveness in influencing OHS decision-makers, and certain tactics (rational persuasion and inspirational appeal) were positively associated with influencing effectiveness, while others (legitimating and exchange) had a negative association.

OHSP’s also have a different profile of tactic usage when compared to other professional groups. These findings have key implications for OHS professional practice.

Madigan, C., Way, K., Capra, M. & Johnstone, K. (2020) Influencing organizational decision-makers–What influence tactics are OHS professionals using? Safety Science, (121), 496-506.